Asbestos revisions on Health Canada website not significant, government says

The federal government is playing down recent changes to the way Health Canada describes the perils of asbestos exposure online, even as experts hail the significance of the update.

OTTAWA — The federal government is playing down recent changes to the way Health Canada describes the perils of asbestos exposure online, even as experts hail the significance of the update.

A spokesman for Health Minister Rona Ambrose says all government web content is being reviewed to prepare for the upcoming transition to one central government site.

Michael Bolkenius says Health Canada made the changes to ensure the information about asbestos remained clear and accurately reflected current health risks.

The website no longer makes reference to chrysotile asbestos, once a significant export for Quebec. The words “significant quantities” have also been removed from a reference to the risks associated with inhaling asbestos fibres.

The World Health Organization says all types of asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis.

Despite the government’s dismissals, the Canada Public Health Association is applauding the changes as evidence of a “good public health decision.”

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